We’ve made it to the next round, y’all! So You Think You Can Dance Season 10 Vegas Round! This is when the drama really starts because the high of getting that ticket can quickly become the not-so-well handled low of being sent back home.

vegas judges

The Judges Panel for Vegas Rounds (photo courtesy of Fox)

And it will be this group of lovely people that will be sending most of them home! They seem pretty happy about it. Or maybe they’re smiling because it’s not soda in those black cups….

I’m going to tell you, besides overly wrought dramatics of group rounds, Vegas is one of my favorite episodes. I just love how intense it is. These kids won’t work harder the rest of the series unless they make it to the finale. It’s just crazy. And the judges don’t take it lightly.

Speaking of, joining Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy and returning guest judges, Adam Shankman and Stephen “Twitch” Boss, are (at different stages of these rounds) Hannah Simone (Cece on New Girl) and Jason Derulo. A good group! I look forward to watching them inevitably cry like little babies, so let’s get to it!

SYTYCD Season 10 Vegas Round starts with 159 dancers ready to prove they were worth the excitement of the judges. How many will be sent home in an ambulance? How many will quit? Before they are even allowed to check in to the hotel, they have to do a solo to prove they can stay. Perhaps it is because a Production Assistant forgot to book enough rooms in the Planet Hollywood Hotel. (If so, they are already down two people because the girl whose knee was dislocated was told she had to stay home and Hampton “The Exorcist” Williams was in a car accident. His wife Darlesha Goggens is still there. We hope you feel better, Hampton!) If their solo impresses, they get a room key. If not, a ticket back home. Harsh.

Here’s the thing with these rounds – it’s not cut and dry as the auditions. A lot of names are thrown around. Mostly it’s montages. So I’ll just give the brief(ish) rundown.

The solos are done in that ego-shattering “no feedback” style. After a small group goes the judges let the dancers know who can stay. And once you get that room key, you can head upstairs, don a swim suit and hit the pool area! Probably shouldn’t get a margarita though. (Which is why I am not on this show… Among other reasons.) By the end of the day, 53 dancers went home including Caleb Brauner (whose father yelled “That’s my nerd”), the ballroom girl who danced with her little brother and Darlesha Goggens. It’s always hard seeing some favorites leave. Yet, sometimes we know they probably weren’t going to make it anyway.  If you’ve been watching long enough… you just know.

First round of choreography is HIP-HOP! Of course, we get Napoleon and Tabitha (NappyTabs) here to teach the dancers. The routine is fun and relatively simple, as this round usually is. It’s basic hip-hop to make sure that the kids can find some character and show the beat of the style. Musicality isn’t always smooth like contemporary or ballroom. And before you think it’s just to keep the favorite Hip Hop dancers in the competition- some of them still get the boot. And you don’t have to be perfect, as the Chinese dancer proved.  77 dancers were still in it at the end of the round.

And some may be sad to still be here because the next choreographer here to torture, I mean, teach, the dancers is Sonya Tayeh for Jazz. She has fully become the new Mia Michaels with her scariness and her kookiness. She is unimpressed at first as tells the dancers they have to rehearse all night and be perfect. Unfortunately, I think Malece Miller’s partner was not feeling fully there for this overnight and he dropped her on her head! Ouchy! Cue our first ambulance. But don’t worry – she makes it through. Her partner, gets a very stern talking to, but is allowed to stay. Get your head in the game, buddy.

I love when the judges are just SO HAPPY they can’t keep still and just start flipping out and pointing and screaming. They are a table of huge goobers. It started off really well, and despite the injury it seemed a night of dancing worked out well. Except for the girl who did not like her partner and when she told Sonya, was quickly admonished by her. Ha! I love Sonya. The male partner, Jade, is asked to dance for his life, so thanks, Sydney, for that. But she gets through and Nigel sends her mix messages – Don’t call out your partner. Also do everything to fight for your place! Only 8 get the boot this round, which did not include Jade after his solo. (So there, Sydney!)

Dmitry Chaplin and Chelsie Hightower are there to teach the next round’s choreography – Ballroom! It’s a sassy routine which is a surprise to no one, given the two who put it together. Can we take a moment and talk about Fik-shun? He’s that Hip-Hop dancer we see every year who somehow just shines in all styles. If he makes it to the Top 20, as it seems very likely at this point that he will, I can’t wait to see what he does. He reminds me a bit of Joshua which has me very excited. Sydney doesn’t make it through this round, and unfortunately, neither does one of my favorites, Tommy Tibball! Sad face.

And here we are… group  night. I love it goes the same every time. The first few hours is all, “YAY MY GROUP! WE LOVE EACH OTHER!” And then… “I hate everyone. They all suck.” Every. Single. Time. But come morning, they aren’t allowed to be tired because Shankman never sleeps either and he is a bright beautiful ball of energy always. I really think that is a big key to this round. Because the ones who come out already defeated often do not do well.

The first group was amazing. Listen, I’ll be honest, I think using the Boston Marathon as your theme is a bit much because, well, I just take issue with things like that sometimes. But at least they backed it up. Their choreography was gorgeous. It did not look like 5 amateurs came up with that in a lobby over night. It made use of all 5 of them and it earned the tears it tried to steal with it’s theme.

The second group gave us our usual drama. “I want to sleep!” “Stay Up!” “I’m in charge!” “I hate they are in charge!” The third group had the “I’m not good at that!” It was the group rounds we know and cringe at. Sometimes that showed on the stage, as it did with Fik-Shun’s group, and sometimes, like in the third group, they made it on through together. And then sometimes it looked like something put together in 10 minutes by some 12 year olds, like the final group. No originality at all. Overall, most made it through. We only saw 4 get cut and there are 54 left.

The final round of choreography is contemporary with Stacey Tookey. It’s a tough one and takes out some familiar faces including Jennifer (Beals) Jones. We’ve reached the point where people start begging and the crying gets a lot harder. Including poor Curtis (Wayne Brady’s fake little brother) who was so moved by the routine he was crying before he even heard his fate. Nigel of course messed with him, but he was through. Jasmine (Cyrus’s ex) and Bluprint (Cyrus’s crew mate) danced this routine together which really worked in her favor because she could use her past in the routine which was about a broken up couple. Bluprint, meanwhile would have to battle with Jade to be the animator that could stay.

This led to the best Cat Deeley moment as she stood between them and asked them to put on their fight faces. At first she laughed at the seriousness, and then, suddenly struck by them, said, “Wow. These are good faces.” I love her so much. Twitch was basically beside himself during the battle. But it wasn’t up to him… it’s up to Stacey… who keeps them both. Because this isn’t the green mile episode. Come on, now. Did you really think one was getting cut right here?!

The remaining dancers have to say why they should be there. There are standard and creative answers but they are all versions of “I’m really good, I want to be better.” 8 are ultimately cut in this last, heartbreaking round. The 33 that made it through to the green mile got to party it up. Which, since many are underage, seemed to consist of playing with helium balloons in a hotel suite. But hey – that can be fun, right?

Next week, our top 20 are introduced and get to dance on the SYTYCD stage for the first time! I’m excited to see who is there, I have my favorites. Who are yours?

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